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Lighting of chicken kicks off shopping season in Gainesville
New 20-foot metal bird to be lit at annual event
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A giant chicken is lit each year at Jingle Mingle to kick off the holiday season. A new, metal one will be lit this year. Photo courtesy of Main Street Gainesville

Once the chicken is lit above Gainesville’s Main Street Market, the Christmas season begins.

“Where else do you see the lighting of the chicken?,” Kristen Howard, Main Street Gainesville manager, said of the lighting at the annual Jingle Mingle event. “Some people light a Christmas tree or the square, we light a giant chicken.”

Jingle Mingle

Where: Gainesville square

When: 5-8 p.m. Nov. 16

How much: Free

There will be a new 20-foot metal chicken that will be lit at 7 p.m. at the annual event Nov. 16. There will be a program with singing, video and light leading up to the countdown of the chicken lighting. This year will feature “pyrotechnics” and a combination of live/recorded music, according to Regina Dyer, Gainesville Convention and Visitors Bureau manager.

The chicken was a collaboration of Main Street Gainesville, Main Street Market owners Deb and Don Harkrider and the students in the welding and paint departments at Lanier Tech.

Jingle Mingle fills the square each year with multiple generations enjoying music, shopping and holiday festivities.

“This event has grown enormously over the past few years, and we anticipate a large crowd,” Dyer said. “Santa makes this annual trip to the square because he loves the children, and Gainesville ranks as one of the top on the nice list. We are very proud of that.”

The free family event includes visits with Santa, letter writing to the North Pole, horse and carriage rides around the square, kiddie train rides and live Christmas music.

“Everyone is up for it and ready. Some shops and restaurants do music, refreshments and decorating. They are getting ready for all of the visitors they are going to have,” Howard said. “Jingle Mingle opens up that holiday season, which is the No. 1 time for these stores downtown. They’re not your big-name stores, these are the smaller stores run by our neighbors and friends, and we want to support them especially throughout this holiday season.”

Howard said the stores and restaurants, which will stay open late, have gifts for every taste, including “a fitness or dance class, tennis lessons or an experience such as a paint class or visit to a restaurant.”

Santa will arrive around 5 p.m. on a Gainesville firetruck and will make a couple of laps around the square with his elves. Celestial Studios will be on site to offer $15 photo packages with Santa, or guests can take their own.

“Our square will be decorated and ready for everyone who comes and visits us through the holiday season. We started decorating the square before Halloween with tree lights, and the rest of decorations come at the beginning of next week,” Howard said. 

Specials guests at the event include the University of North Georgia Hawkapellas and the Believers Concert Band.

Parking at the parking deck is recommended as streets will be closed shortly before 5 p.m.

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